New Music Reviews – Early & Mid-September Releases

New Music Reviews – Early & Mid-September Releases

Jason Barie grew up in Florida where he became a state champion fiddler at an early age. He traveled with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver for nearly six years and presently plays for Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers. His new CD, Pieces, includes 13 tracks.

Pros: Barie is an outstanding fiddler as instrumental tracks like “Waiting On Isaac,” “Sarah Jo,” “Two Left Shoes” and others prove. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “We’ll Be Sweethearts In Heaven,” “Beyond The Sunset For Me,” “Diary Of My Mind,” and “Blue Eyed Darlin'” add vocals to the mix, which in turn adds variety to the overall listening experience. The final instrumental track, “Ashokan Farewell,” is the most beautiful fiddle song ever written. Of all the recordings I’ve heard in the past, Barie’s isn’t quite my favorite, but rendering it live from the Cedarville Opry House is a very nice ending to what is otherwise a studio recording.

Cons: Other than the collaboration with Del McCoury and Paul Williams on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the vocals are nothing special.

Label: Billy Blue Records
Song Titles: Waiting On Isaac; I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry; Sarah Jo; We’ll Be Sweethearts In Heaven; Adalynn’s Lullabye; Two Left Shoes; Beyond The Sunset For Me; Sassafras; Diary Of My Mind; Oak Grove Shuffle; Blue Eyed Darlin’; The Rapido Kid; Ashokan Farewell
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube.


Cana’s Voice combines the vocal talents of former Greenes soprano Taranda Greene, current Avalon member Jody McBrayer, and former Ernie Haase & Signature Sound baritone Doug Anderson. Greene continues to tour as a soloist between Cana’s Voice appearances while McBrayer bounces back and forth between Cana’s Voice and Avalon events. Anderson’s website shows no upcoming appearances currently, so it’s not clear if he is still scheduling solo dates. Don’t Wanna Miss This is the trio’s second release.

Pros: The range of song types Cana’s Voice can deliver while making it seem totally effortless is remarkable. Their sources range from traditional Black Gospel and Southern Gospel to Contemporary classics.

Fresh material on Don’t Wanna Miss This holds up beside standards like “Where Jesus Is” (Andrae Crouch), “There Is A Love” (Michael English), “Orphans Of God” (Avalon/Talleys),”We’re Blessed” (Fred Hammond), and “I Stand Redeemed” (Legacy Five). Cana’s Voice is the second artist to record “Center Of It All,” but I did not include it on the list of standards since the first release was merely two months ago (The Lowly Heirs).

Arrangements of songs recorded previously by other artists found on Don’t Wanna Miss This aren’t mere “covers.” Each song has been re-imagined from the ground up to showcase the vocal strengths of Cana’s Voice.

I usually balance the “Pros” section of each review with a section of “Cons,” but there really are no cons here. A couple of arrangements run a little longer than I felt was necessary, but that’s just a personal preference, not a knock on the quality of Don’t Wanna Miss This.

From beginning to end, Don’t Wanna Miss This is the best recording I’ve heard in 2019.

Producers: Wayne Haun, Jim Hammerly, Jerard Woods
Label: StowTown Records
Song Titles: Where Jesus Is; You Don’t Wanna Miss This; There Is A Love; Orphans of God; I Don’t Have To Know; Again & Again; We’re Blessed; I Stand Redeemed; Center Of It All; Hope; What Are You Waiting For; At Midnight
Rating: 5 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: September 13, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Chad McCloskey sings with The Ball Brothers and is a brother-in-law to Andrew and Daniel Ball. His new solo CD, Smilin’, features a collection of crooner standards in the style of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Orchestrations for the album were created by another brother-in-law to the Ball Brothers, Cody McVey who also was the producer of Smilin’.

Pros: Smilin’ showcases Cody McVey’s best orchestration work to date. His arrangements are creative, tasteful, and interesting. At the same time, the instruments always enhance Chad McCloskey’s vocals. I was pleased to see the modern worship song “Beautiful One” and the classic hymn “Blessed Assurance” masterfully rendered in the same style as the eight jazz standards that complete Smilin’.

Cons: Aside from “Beautiful One” and “Blessed Assurance,” these are the most obvious song choices for this sort of music. It’s too bad no forgotten songs from the past were unearthed and given new life on this recording.

Producer: Cody McVey
Label: Song Garden
Song Titles: Feeling Good; When You’re Smiling; Unforgettable; For Sentimental Reasons; I’ve Got the World On A String; For Once In My Life; Beautiful One; Smile; Blessed Assurance; What A Wonderful World
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube


The latest release by Brian Free & Assurance is a 6-song EP titled How Good Does Grace Feel. In 2019, lead singer Bill Shivers and baritone singer Mike Rogers are completing their 18th and 6th years with this group respectively. Tenor singer and group owner/manager Brian Free is now in his 24th year heading Assurance (not counting a three year hiatus from 1998 to 2001 when he traveled as a soloist).

Overall, How Good Does Grace Feel stands in contrast to other recent recordings by this group. Songs don’t start off pounding from the start like “I Keep Looking Up.” Most of these tracks begin with a gentler groove that organically builds as the arrangement progresses.

Pros: “Without Jesus” is the strongest song on this collection both in terms of lyrics and Brian Free’s vocal delivery. Fans may be surprised to hear Free dip down into baritone territory in spots on the verses. “Helpless” is another particularly strong lyric. This song was also recorded by Caleb Crino, but I prefer the vocal harmonies that Brian Free & Assurance produce here to Crino’s version.

Cons: The vocal processing is distracting in spots, though not to the extent of some other BF&A recordings. In terms of song choice for an EP format limited to just six songs, it’s odd that Free chose to record another version of “Only God Knows.” Previous versions of “Only God Knows” include one with Gold City, one on a solo CD, and three times with Assurance. Now we have a sixth version.

Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: This Storm; Without Jesus; Helpless; How Good Does Grace Feel; Even If The Healing Doesn’t Come; Only God Knows
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube.

Jason Barie
4 out of 5
Cana's Voice
5 out of 5
Chad McCloskey
4.5 out of 5
Brian Free & Assurance
4 out of 5
Overall

Average rating of all four CDs

4.38

Good
4.38 out of 5
Category CD Reviews, Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

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4 Comments

  1. Reply September 26, 22:41 #1 scotty searan

    I believe you should limit reviews and releases to Southern Gospel Music.

  2. Reply September 27, 22:12 #2 Anthony

    In my opinion, If a group releases anything under 10 songs the price should reflect that. I know this is beginning to be a trend, groups releasing under 10 songs per cd, but I for one will not pay full price for a 6 song cd. I hope if BFA won’t charge full price for this.

    • Reply October 02, 09:53 David Bruce Murray Author

      The Brian Free/Assurance CD with 6 songs is going for $7.98 on daywind.com while Wilburn & Wilburn is $13.98 with 10 songs.

      Of course, I have no idea what the group is charging at their concerts, but it looks like for mail order, there is a reasonable adjustment made on the price.

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